Summary: The last three Churches in Asia
The Church of Sardis
This is the 5th Church that we read of in Revelation. So far, there has been a loveless Church, a persecuted Church, a lenient Church and a compromising Church. Chapter 3 begins by telling us of a dead Church. Now to clarify what he is speaking of, look to I Samuel 16:7. For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for a man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. When he was talking about this Church dying, he wasn’t speaking of them dying a natural death, but spiritual death.
Two things need to be pointed out before we go any further, to understand why they were dead. First, we should all be able to agree that the Spirit of God did not dwell among these people. It doesn’t say that here, but we can draw that conclusion by using other scriptures. II Corinthians 3:6 says, for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. Now if the Spirit was present, there would certainly be life. This was a Church that was trying to operate without the Spirit. Sounds foolish, but how many of us do it today? A perfect example of this is Samson. When we think of Samson, we think of a powerful man. God used him in many ways, to accomplish many things. His name by definition meant Champion. But when he walked away from his power source, he lost his strength. That is what this Church did. They no longer had their power source.
The other reason is that this Church didn’t have faith. Once again we can draw that conclusion from what the word says in James 2:20, that faith without works is dead. This Church had works, yet they were dead. If faith without works is dead, then works without faith is dead also. Hebrews 11:6 says that without faith it is impossible to please him. This was a Church that certainly wasn’t pleasing God.
Sardis was trying to do works without faith, and without the Spirit anointing there offerings to God. Zechariah 4:6 says, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. We can operate without a big budget, extravagant buildings, and fancy singers, but we can’t do without the spirit of the almighty God.
As with the other letters, there is a great message for you and I. As I studied this letter, I began to think of the signs and symptoms of someone who is dying. I believe the same things we see as a person begins their natural death, we’ll see in spiritual death.
When a person is nearing the end of life, one of the first signs is they begin to loose their senses. Their sense of smell, taste, hearing, eye sight and touch begin to fade. Do you know any Christians that spiritual are loosing their senses? They just don’t feel the power of God like they used to, or smell the sweet fragrances of the praise going up in the Church. They no longer taste the goodness of the Lord. The bible says 17 times in the New Testament for He that hath an ear to hear. I know many who no longer are enduring sound doctrine. Their lose of vision is probably most important. Proverbs 29:18 says, where there is no vision, the people perish. When we see Christians with these spiritual signals, we can mark it down that they are dying.
You will also notice that people begin to become very restless. They just have an inability to be content with their situation. Look around in congregations over America today. There are many born again Christians that are never satisfied. The choir sings to long, the preacher is to loud, the flowers are yellow instead of red, the curtains are don’t match the pews…. Sound familiar? These are the ones you mark down that are spiritually dying!
When one begins to near their crossing, their appetite begins to decrease. They don’t get the nutrition that they need to stay healthy. I would feel safe in saying that if you surveyed Christians today, that over 90 percent would say that they don’t read their bibles on a daily basis. Some, probably don’t read at all during the week. The scripture, the singing, preaching and testifying is my food. When I miss Church, I miss a meal. When I don’t read a day, I miss a meal. How much more important spiritual food is than natural. When Christ was writing to Pergamos, he said, to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna. What an amazing promise. But how much of that manna do you think goes un eaten?
Working in the healthcare field, I can say I have definitely seen this. Peoples immune system begins to weaken to the point that even a small wound or injury, can take their life. They loose the ability to heal or recover from wounds. As sad as it is, some of our biggest wounds do not come from the world, but in the Church. Most of the time, these are unintentional, but wounds come anyway. When we have decreased our senses, developed a critical Spirit, and quit eating the spiritual food we need, the smallest cut can totally destroy our spirituality.